Samuel Mancino's Italianate empire extends throughout the Midwest, with each outpost flaunting a full menu of fresh-baked grinders and pizzas loaded with hearty ingredients. A trifecta of ham, hard salami, and spicy sausage powers the signature italian grinder ($6.49 for an 8"), spurred on to its task of filling bellies by green pepper, onion, and melted mozzarella. Samuel Mancino's chefs toss dough by hand to give it a fluffy texture before it meets its fate as a foundation for pizzas laden with fresh, gourmet topping combinations such as chicken and garlic or ham, bacon, and pineapple ($15.99+). Piping-hot breadsticks return in sugary eveningwear as sweet Cinna-Stix ($5.99), perfect for dessert or as lick-and-stick nest-building materials. Prices may vary by location, though the owner, who recently took over the Erskine Plaza location, is absolutely identical.
Brewster's whets palates with applewood-smoked meats and a panoply of pub fare that can be selected from the menu. Pulled pork and beef brisket simmer for 14 hours in the smoker before emerging between buns for sandwiches ($6.99) or teaming up with sides on dinner-platter platoons ($10.99). Tex-Mex entrees available to massage taste buds include the chipotle chicken quesadilla ($7.99) and El Paso nachos ($8.99), inspired by the city in Texas from which they hale—Amsterdam. Diners can also peruse a battalion of bread-boosted hunger-trouncers, such as beefy burgers ($5.99–$7.99) and savory chicken wraps ($7.29).
In 1939, Everett Cook purchased what would become the Cook family farm and was told it was the worst investment he had ever made. But in the spirit of tenacious American homesteaders, three generations of Cooks turned that bad investment into a thriving bison ranch. After years of research, Peter Cook—Everett’s grandson—became a member of the National Bison Association, and ordered the ranch's first 30 bison in 1998. The hulking, majestic curiosities began drawing in groups from area schools, cross-country motor-coach tours, and time-traveling harmonica players to the 83-acre farm in northern Indiana's Amish country.
During the ranch’s signature one-hour tour, guests board a wagon and venture out to interact with and feed the animals as guides regale them with facts about North American bison. After the tour, groups can also sit down for a meal of bison burgers or bison brats. The animals receive no growth hormones or stimulants and graze on the ranch's own hay and grain, which produces tender and healthy meat, unlike animals fed with growth hormones, which produces meat that won’t stop quoting Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. Bison burgers, brats, and steaks are available for purchase online or inside the ranch's gift shop. In addition to the tours, the ranch also allows guests to hunt their own game during guided hunts, taking home bison, deer, and wild turkey.
Chalkboards mounted on a canary-yellow wall display the current menus at Trios Deli, with seasonal specials joining casual-dining mainstays such as breakfast burritos, grilled reuben sandwiches, and greek salads. Lattes and fruit smoothies energize diners with a burst of natural caffeine or sugars. Head chef Dan Scott also oversees the restaurant's catering operations, which feed parties large and small with customized menus of comfort food from hand-carved spiral hams to hand-stuffed seafood ravioli to hand-woven spaghetti blankets.
After respective careers as a research scientist and an educator, Larry and Pam Satek were ready to settle into retirement. They anticipated relaxing on the plot of land purchased by Pam's great-grandfather in 1915—a verdant space that had matured from an apple orchard into an overgrown tangle, and which the Sateks turned into a commercial vineyard where other Indiana wineries bought their grapes. Now that they had escaped the daily grind, the Sateks' plan was to begin crafting their own wine. They did so with well-recognized aplomb, and soon, their "retirement business" was winning awards at the INDY International Wine Competition. In the past three years, almost 80% of their wines have medaled—the 2012 contest alone landed them 23 awards, including two Concordance Golds, which signify a unanimous decision by the judges. Their success is hardly surprising, though, if one looks at the descriptions of their wines. They deem their Old Vine red zinfandel "a searing of lightning and poetry," and liken the sweet Mango Mania to "sunshine in your glass."
The Sateks remain continually tapped into the community in an effort to share these wines, many of which are made from exclusively locally grown fruit. Their Twitter feed and Facebook page keep fans posted regarding new releases and suddenly sold-out varieties, and those hoping for a closer look can take a tour of the vineyard and bottling facilities. Additionally, special events such as dinners and pairing classes teach visitors how to expertly marry sips to bites without disappointing both of their families.
Ambrosia Bella is a cozy escape for those who crave fresh-made desserts, café fare, and rich espresso hidden beneath a cap of foam. Co-owners Miranda Hartwell and Ben Lamson, a former Marine who doubles as Ambrosia's executive chef, take care to keep their restaurant relaxed and slightly whimsical. Drawing on a catering background with the Food Network and charitable catering events for Rosie O'Donnell and FEMA, Miranda and Ben prepare a rustic-hewn menu for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, with refined accents such as champagne vinaigrette and garlic-truffle cream cheese.
After sinking teeth into a few crab-cake sliders, guests can thank Ambrosia Bella for its contributions to the Steuben County Animal Shelter, or solicit Ben to craft a bone-shaped danish to feed the dogs, cats, and tiny humans within all of our hearts.